Big Little Recipes

The Fudgiest Flourless Chocolate Cake, Thanks to a One-Ingredient Trick

April  9, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big everything else: flavor, creativity, wow factor. Psst—we don't count water, salt, black pepper, and certain fats (specifically, 1/2 cup or less of olive oil, vegetable oil, and butter), since we're guessing you have those covered. Today, we’re reimagining the classic flourless chocolate cake, just in time for Passover.

There are a lot of ways to avoid a dry chocolate cake. You can add mayonnaise. Or avocado. Or lots of hot water. Or, my favorite, you can skip the flour.

This chocolate cake calls for zero flour and a pint of heavy cream, most of which—1 ½ cups, to be exact—gets whipped into fluff and piled on top like a cloud. But the more interesting part is what happens to the other ½ cup.

Most flourless chocolate cakes have the same ingredient list: chocolate, sugar, eggs, and butter. Whipped cream on top is optional for some, but mandatory for this one. As Richard Sax said about his famous (and Genius) Chocolate Cloud Cake, the contrast between chocolate and cream yields “intensity, then relief, in each bite.”

So, if we're definitely piling a bunch of whipped cream on top of this cake, what’s to stop us from adding it to the cake, too?

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Top Comment:
“yes, great cake! And also great for Passover . But please remember that for a kosher meal with meat dairy can't be served. ”
— Rosalind P.

According to award-winning baker Shirley O. Corriher, nothing. In her book BakeWise, she writes that adding whipped cream to cake batters “changes everything.” In a good way!

I've wrote about this technique for our Change the Way You Bake series. In the name of research, I added whipped cream to four baked good recipes on our site—a plum torte, chocolate loaf, bran muffins, and shortcakes. All very different, yes, but none like the unicorn that is a flourless chocolate cake.

I had to find out, right?

You can fold in the meringue and whipped cream with a silicone spatula or even the stand mixer's whisk attachment. Photo by Rocky Luten

I used the Chocolate Cloud Cake as a jumping-off point—lowered the number of eggs, added salt, ditched the cognac and orange, and, a la Shirley, folded in 1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff-ish peaks. Then I crossed my fingers.

Turns out: Already-fudgy, already-rich, and already-great flourless chocolate cake can be even fudgier, even richer, and even better. All thanks to whipped cream. While the crust retains its meringue-like shell, the interior becomes utterly mousse-like, with the decadence of chocolate ganache.

Like all flourless chocolate cakes, this one sinks into a Grand Canyon–esque crater as it cools. Which sounds (and looks) problematic until you realize this is the perfect place for more whipped cream—an almost outlandish amount that I won't apologize for. As far as I’m concerned, you can never have too much.

Bonus Big Little Recipe

If you’re a Big Little fan, maybe you’re wondering: Where’s this week’s video? We’re taking a quick hiatus—yep, just like a TV show—to cook up the next season of episodes, premiering May 28. They’re gonna be bigger (and littler) and better than ever. Stay tuned!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Nanalovestocook October 29, 2019
I made this using Stevia instead of sugar, but followed all other directions. It was so delicious! Will be making this for all upcoming birthdays.
Rosalind P. June 21, 2019
yes, great cake! And also great for Passover . But please remember that for a kosher meal with meat dairy can't be served.
Jenica May 7, 2019
I made this for a passover seder I was invited to, and it was SO GOOD. Came out perfectly (I'm in Texas, so no altitude issues for me) and was outrageously good. This recipe is a keeper.
Emma L. May 7, 2019
Thank, Jenica—so glad you enjoyed!
Miss_Karen April 9, 2019
I live @ 6035 ft and one if the 'tricks' to adjusting for high elevation is to add flour-(usually about 2 TBSP.) How would you adjust THIS for people who don't live at sea level?? Inquiring minds want to know.😊
Emma L. April 10, 2019
Hi Miss K! I'm not super-versed in high elevation baking, so I'm sorry that I can't say for sure. But this chart from King Arthur seems like a great resource for adapting recipes:
Miss_Karen April 13, 2019
Thank you. I will take a look at it.
Nanalovestocook October 29, 2019
I live in South Lake Tahoe..elevation about 6200 feet..did not add any flour and it turned out perfect!
Smaug April 9, 2019
I made some effort to come up with a cake made by folding whipped cream into whipped ganache, then folding in egg yolks and (beaten) whites- never got it to hold up without adding a bit of flour, which I felt compromised the flavor I wanted, and baking experiment season is over here (gardening season), but I still think there might be something there.
Emma L. April 10, 2019
Hm! I wonder if there was too much cream? The times I tried to add even more cream to this cake batter, it started to lose its structural integrity.
Smaug April 10, 2019
Well, it was a problem of balancing the cake structurally- as a home cook, I can only do so many experiments and I never got there. The plan was to make a flourless cake that didn't depend on huge amounts of butter, for a somewhat lighter creation with a pure chocolate flavor. It was getting fairly close, and, as I say, I do think there may be something there, but it will have to await another winter.
Eric K. April 11, 2019
Keep us updated!
Miss_Karen April 13, 2019
Thanks Smaug. Good to know I'm not the only one who tried for a slightly different result on the 'flourless' cake.